The Minds Behind 'Hokies for Crouse'
Reporter: David Tate
Blacksburg, VA. - In the moments after Virginia Tech announced that slain police officer Deriek Crouse left behind a wife and five children, a movement got underway that was dedicated to ensuring that family would still be able to at least try to enjoy the holiday season.
It has been an overwhelming success for the two Virginia Tech students who put together the "Hokies For Crouse" campaign that they say continues to show the world what the "Hokie Nation" is really all about.
"I just wanted to see if there was a way I could make some kind of contribution to, not ease the loss they just had, but maybe to make it more bearable," said Bethany Darnley who built the original Facebook page.
By the end of that first day, it was clear that "Hokies For Crouse" would take on a life of its own.
"I'm speechless. When I started this I thought I would only get a few hundred bucks and a couple of presents," said Darnley.
Speechless because exactly one week after the shooting, "Hokies For Crouse" had raised more than $143,000 for the Crouse family.
The endeavor has been so successful, Darnley took on the help of Drew Jenkinson whose social media savviness turned an overwhelming project into a project that now, for the most part, operates on its own.
"I did expect the Hokie community to come together. I didn't expect it to turn into this, though," said Jenkinson.
Jenkinson credits much of the success to Twitter - which sent "Hokies for Crouse" worldwide.
"It's all about giving back. We are just so excited to have the Crouse family in our thoughts and prayers. You can obviously see that this movement is going to help them in their financial needs and hopefully maybe ease their emotional stress by knowing that a community is behind them," said Jenkinson.
Now at least five other colleges are on board: VCU, JMU, Radford, Longwood and UVa. People from all over the Commonwealth and all over the world are coming together. It's all because of the ideas of two Virginia Tech students who had never met before that fateful day. Some say it's proof that there is always a silver lining regardless how tragic a situation is.
"I never dreamed we could do something so great and show the world what it means to be a part of the Hokie Nation and how our support stands by each other," said Darnley.
Eventually Darnley and Jenkinson expect to hand the operation off so that "Hokies For Crouse" can continue on for as long as people continue to support it.
The campaign has raised more than $156,000 as of Sunday night.